Stage Managing Zenith

By: Jacob Rogers

If you were to ask me about my favorite production, my answer would undoubtedly be Zenith. This was my fourth and final year to work the show, but I will carry the memories with me forever. I can still vividly recall running the light board for Zenith as a freshmen. It was my first production in the Performing Arts Center and I attribute most of my interest in TEC to my experiences from that show. The knowledge I gained and relationships I built during that week of rehearsal were all it took to convince me I was in the right place. I remember being in total awe of the stage manager during my freshmen year, and I loved the relationship between TEC and Hyline throughout the production.

Ever since then, I knew I wanted to stage manage Zenith, and I finally got my chance this year. Being my senior year and final production, this year’s show was especially important to me. Much like our other productions, preparation for Zenith begins weeks or even months in advance. Everything from writing the cuelist to programming the moving lights has to be completed before we can begin our week of rehearsal. As soon as I knew I was stage managing, I began to think about my position. What would I say during the crew meetings? How would I lead the crew?  What were the keys to a successful production? All of these thoughts were running through my mind continuously, and before I knew it, Zenith week had begun. Aside from a couple unexpected fire drills, the rehearsals came and went without a hitch, and the show opened on the Thursday of that week. Opening night was a very successful show, and in my opinion, we raised the bar even higher with the following two shows. Saturday night was our final performance and my last major production as a member of the Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew.

The feeling from calling cues in front of an audience of 1,100 people was inexplicable. Before every show, I was nervous, but after calling a couple dances, those nerves transformed into excitement. It was an amazing feeling to finish calling the cues for a dance and then hear the roar of applause from the audience.

Stage managing gave me a unique opportunity to hone my leadership skills and learn some more along the way. One of the most crucial things I learned from Zenith was the importance of trust. It’s always been a part of my personality to want to do everything myself but obviously, this is an impossible task for any show that TEC puts on. Zenith helped me realize that I had to trust my crew members to complete their responsibilities, even if I couldn’t be there to help. At first, this was an uncomfortable feeling for me. While I sat in the light booth calling cues, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to be on stage checking the shinbuster gels or at the soundboard listening to the mix. As the week progressed, I slowly began to relax and developed a deep level of trust within my crew. This trust led to a close-knit team, which eventually led to three very successful public performances.

Concluding my last major production was a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, I was upset. TEC has become a major part of my life over the past four years and the productions are the best opportunity to get to know other crew members and build ourselves as a team. I’ll miss these opportunities greatly as I graduate  and move on to college. On the other hand, it was a very rewarding feeling to complete my last major production, especially with a show as strong as this year’s Zenith.  I was so impressed with the teamwork and leadership exhibited by this year’s crew and I can’t wait to see what TEC will be capable of next year.